Point of View Columns

The Best Congress Money Can Buy

The members of the Roberts/Alito/Scalia/Thomas right wing cabal of the United States Supreme Court have regularly showed their disdain for the American people and their convenient disregard for the United States Constitution when it serves their right wing purposes. The most recent exhibition of blatantly partisan jurisprudence was on full display last week in Washington.

In the case of McCutcheon v. Federal Elections Commission – the right wing of the Supreme Court actually ruled that any limits on campaign contributions to congressional elections amounted to an unwarranted restriction on free speech. As a result of this decision, there are still limits of approximately $5000 that an individual can give to a single congressional candidate. However, that same individual can now contribute that maximum amount to as many congressional candidates as they might choose.

To put this decision in context, there are 435 congressional races being held this year. To achieve a majority, either party must elect at least 218 members of Congress. There are 33 senate races this year. There are 50 Democrats, 47 Republicans and 2 independents (one seat is vacant due to the death of the incumbent).

Simple math will reveal that the 50 members of the existing cohort of right wing billionaires and multimillionaires can easily – very easily – spend $1.125 million each in order to take absolute control of the House of Representatives and the United States Senate. In effect the Supreme Court has organized the greatest garage sale in the history of the planet, making the United State Congress available for the low, low price of $50 million.

It is also important to note that the McCutcheon decision slithers in the same self-serving slime as Citizens United  case where the Roberts/Alito/Scalia/Thomas conservative hit men in robes recognized the previously unknowable and constitutionally invisible corporate right of free speech.

The results of that decision resulted in a tsunami of cash that cascaded into the elections of 2012, and the fact that President Obama was reelected should not obscure the fact that at local, state and congressional levels the right wing noose was being tightened around the neck of the American body politic.

Think of it – with the right wing of the right wing infusing its cash into the veins and arteries of Congress as never before, there is no limit to what the ultraconservative partisans can achieve. The impeachment of President Barack Obama will be high on the list, along with the dismantling of Obamacare, Social Security and the entire social safety net that has been part of the American claim to true exceptionalism.

This scenario seems extreme only when the facts are ignored. The facts are that the superrich in America have established a loose but effective coalition that has virtually unlimited funds. Everyone has heard of the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson, but not everyone has heard of Kenneth Langone and the dozens of billionaires who are committed to dismantling the federal government as we know it and, in the process unraveling the social safety net until it is a shredded and pitiful imitation of what it once was.

What is so ironic about this current iteration of the Supreme Court is that it is so clearly partisan in its interpretation of the Constitution. It consistently rules that there should be no limit to the constitutional rights to put money in political campaigns or to own guns. But it also rules in favor of draconian limitations of a woman’s right to make health care choices or for black people to vote freely and without encumbrance.

Slowly but surely the rights and protections of the American people, indeed American democracy, are being sliced and diced in plain view. What is clear is that elections do matter. The superrich know this and are willing to invest their millions. Hopefully the rest of us will come to realize the importance of elections and invest our votes and our money accordingly and wisely.